Writing. It’s now an art form that anyone with a keyboard can theoretically do. Writing is free, right? Just sit down, turn the spell-checker on and type away.
Writing can be easy, sure. But writing isn’t the same as effective content marketing. Content marketing means writing useful, keyword-optimized articles in a way that they don’t read like an elementary student copied and pasted keywords indiscriminately into a plagiarized Wikipedia article.
So while many brands decide to dive into the blogging game, it’s not as easy to know what makes good content. To make Strunk & White proud, here are a few elements of a stellar blog post.
Good blogging is clear blogging, and the surest way to cut through the fat is by starting with a strong headline. Think of this as your thesis statement; your guiding principle throughout the blog post. While some headline writers will wax poetic, the most effective blog titles draw a click immediately.
Listicles be damned: numbers work. Why else would we offer “8 Elements of a Stellar Blog Post” instead of just “Here Are Some Elements That Make a Good Blog Post?”
While bloggers once feared posts longer than 800 words, ever-evolving algorithms and increasing comfort reading online have led many bloggers to adopt a hardline commitment to longform. This is good for a few reasons: it gives you more room to pack in those keywords; it invites readers to stay on your page longer; and it gives you a chance to actually explore the topic you’re writing about.
Some even say that Google is now ranking longer blogs higher than short form ones, judging them based on their quality rather than simply whether people zone out after five seconds. So go ahead and flaunt that expertise.
Content-marketing experts harp on keywords a lot, but it’s only because the difference good keyword research makes is astounding. Make your blogs targeted and particular, tackling a theme you think you can write about authoritatively—but also one that not many of your competitors have blogged about.
The next step is to write naturally and authentically. You’ll notice I don’t keep repeating “how to write a good blog” in this piece over and over, because everyday readers would assume I’m some Russian machine programmed to write spam content.
There are two types of hyperlinks: internal and external. Linking to your own content (internal) is good, as readers may find that content genuinely interesting and you’ll keep them on your site longer. But Google also positively weighs outgoing links to authoritative sources. Citing news stories and explanations (as you might with footnotes) is a good way to build a trustworthy website.
If you want anyone to share your content, it’s got to be social media friendly. Remember: social media is an emotional medium. Blog about something funny, scary or informative and people will be more inclined to share it on their personal feeds.
When it does, use this simple litmus test: Would you share it on your own personal feed?
Social media has proven time and time again that posts with beautiful, grabby images do better than those without. This same logic applies beyond the social world. Find great photos and your content will grab people for longer.
Looking for a place to start? We’ve got a list of eight great sites for free (or at least cheap) stock photos.